4 minute read

July 2017


In this post, I’m going to show you how to deploy an Azure Storage Account to Azure using Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS).

Using infrastructure as code and a build and release pipeline, this makes it easier to set up resources in different environments and even different Azure subscriptions / regions.

The code for the storage account is available in my GitHub account, it consists of two ARM templates:

  • azuredeploy.json - the template containing details of the resource (storage account in this example)
  • azuredeployparameters.json - this file is used to override the parameters in the template file to allow us to reuse it in different scenarios / projects

You’ll need:

  • An active Azure Subscription
  • A VSTS account These are free as long as you stay within the limits. Microsoft are very good at warning / disabling resources so you don’t spend any money but you should keep a close eye on costs if you have monthly credit to use. This example doesn’t store any data in the storage account so there will be no charges, if you do store data, you’ll get charge / have credit reduced.

The process is for Azure storage but can be used to deploy other Azure resources as long as you have the ARM templates.

The steps are:

  1. Build the templates so they are outputted as artifacts
  2. Use the artifacts from the build to release the resources to an Azure subscription.

Setup VSTS project

Login to VSTS

  • Create a New Project

VSTS create New Project

Note: I’m not going to be using the source control provided by VSTS because I’m using GitHub for this demo. VSTS offers free private repositories and integrates very nicely with the build tasks.

Create Build

  • From the top menu select “Build & Release”

select build release from menu then build

  • click the + New definition

VSTS create New build

  • select Empty process

VSTS build empty process

Click on the Process:

  1. Name: rename this build if you like
  2. Agent: Hosted

VSTS build agent

Now you select your source, this can be your VSTS project repo or a remote repo See the VSTS documentation for setting up a remote source. Here’s my settings connected to my GitHub repo

VSTS sources

Click on add task Under the utilities section Add the following two tasks:

  • Copy Files to:
  • Publish Build Artifacts

VSTS add tasks

  • Click the Copy Files task
  • Source Folder: Select the ellipses and select the folder containing the template and parameters JSON files

VSTS copy files

  • Contents: **\*.json (we only want the JSON files) See file copy docs for more info.

  • Target Folder: $(build.artifactstagingdirectory) (this where the files will be copied before we upload them as an artifact to be used in the release)

VSTS copy files

Click the Publish Artifact task

  • Name: Rename if you like
  • Path to publish: $(build.artifactstagingdirectory)
  • Artifact Name: storage-demo-artifact-drop
  • Artifact Type: Server

VSTS publish artifacts

Build Time

  • Click Save and Queue
  • Check the agent is “Hosted” and branch is “master”

VSTS queue build

This will queue a new build and once it has completed you should have an artifact containing the two JSON files that can be used in the release phase.

Go back to the builds main page and click on the build. You should see a build number, click on that number and you will be taken into the details of the build.

VSTS build result

  • click on the Artifacts and see what the build produced

VSTS build artifacts


  • click the Releases tab
  • click New Definition

Select Empty

VSTS new release

  • make sure the build definition is the one you’ve just created.
  • You can click the Continuous deployement if you like, then every time a successful build is created, the deployment will happen automatically (note: if you’re doing lots of little changes you may not want this and deploy manually otherwise you can use up your free monthly build minutes pretty quickly).

create release definition

Release Varibales

  • setup the Variable for the release, these will apply to all of the environments - click on Variables

click on variables on the top menu

Add the following variables (paying attention to the case):

  • location: uksouth (or the Azure region nearest you)
  • blobEncryptionEnabled: true

Click on Environment 1 and rename to Development or similar

set release variables

  • click Add Task
  • select Azure Resource Group Deployment

release task

  • Azure Subscription: Select your Azure subscription from the drop down
  • Action: Create or update resource group
  • Resource Group: demo-storage-rg (or call it what you like or choose an existing resource group to deploy into)
  • location: $(location) Here we are using the release variable that we set up earlier for the location

Template Artifacts

  • Template: Linked artifact
  • Template: click the elipses and select the azuredeploy.json from the artifacts we create from the build

select templates from artifacts

  • Template Parameters: Repeat the previous process and select azuredeployparameters.json
  • Override Template Parameters: -location $(location) -storageAccountName $(storageAccountName) -storageAccountType $(storageAccountType) -blobEncryptionEnabled $(blobEncryptionEnabled)

Here we specify the variables we are going to use to override the template parameters

override template parameters

  • Deployment mode: Incremental is fine

Environment Variables

Now we set the variables for the individual environment.

  • click the ellipses by the environment name and select Configure variables…

select configure variables

Enter the following:

  • storageAccountName: storageacctname242 - this needs to be unique to Azure and has specific naming conventions
  • storageAccountType: Standard_LRS

configure variables for storageAccountName and storageAccountType

  • click the pencil icon to rename the release if you wish.

  • save the release

Click the Release button and select Create Release

select create release from release menu drop down

  • click create

  • click on Release-1

click on release-1

You should now see the release deploying

release in progress

If you go to your Azure subscription, you should see the resource group created and shortly after the storage account and the release Deployment Status should show Success

release success

In the Azure portal:

azure portal